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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Saturday, March 22, 2003



With Friends Like These...

Who needs enemies? Not me! I need to award some prizes. But first, some background.

Josh Marshall recently posted yet another attack on the Bush Administration, this time explaining how they did not understand Security Council Resolution 1441. I pounced, pointing out that the statement that US Ambassador to the UN John Negroponte made at the time the resolution was adopted more or less demolishes Marshall's argument.

Brad DeLong gets swept into the mix with his post that begins:

Josh Marshall Parses SC 1441

Josh Marshall does an excellent job parsing the meaning of Security Council Resolution 1441.


And now Kendall of TitusOneNine creates a bit of disharmony with his post. Special K has linked to some recent comments by Colin Powell which also refute Mr. Marshall. Ahh, unexpected support for my view! But wait:

[The Minuteman offers his take on this, but, fatally in my view, ALSO doesn't quote Colin Powell].

Fatally?!? Hey, not only am I still standing, I don't even feel a cold coming on. Anyway, I'll accept that the Colin Powell information is more dirt on the grave of Marshall's argument. However, one might argue that statements made by Powell in March may simply be an attempt to re-write the history of a poor decision made in November.

But I promised prizes, not more arguments! SO, without further ado:

To Josh Marshall, who managed to provide two links to the same LA Times article but could not find the relevant statement by the John Negroponte or Colin Powell's recent statement, we award a free subscription to "Google". Now, I should warn Mr. Marshall - this may not work if you are "feeling lucky". The UN statement is actually number two on this search as I type this.

For Brad DeLong, for his confusion of "parse" with "partisan", we have the Inigo Montoya "I don't think that word means what you think it means" Award.

And for Mr. Kendall, whose blog is one sentence short of brilliant, we have the Glenn Close "maybe the wrong rabbit is in that pot" Fatal Mistake Award, which will come with a cool link if I manage to think of one.

UPDATE: Confusion! Apparently James Taranto at "Best of the Web" took a shot at Mr. Marshall, who responds in an update. I am safe from return fire, as explained here. And since Mr. MArshall objects to the most minor of points in the WSJ piece, I continue to believe that my argument is secure.

OTOH, this, from Marshall, is puzzling:

Now James Taranto over at the Wall Street Journal says my "hair-splitting legal analysis completely ignores Resolution 678 of Nov. 29, 1990, which authorized U.N. member states 'to use all necessary means to uphold and implement resolution 660 (1990) and all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area.'"

Now, I'm all for fig leaves in their place... But let's know a fig leaf when we see one. For conservatives to hang this on 678 in any serious sense is sad and unseemly. Better just to have the courage of your own unilateralism -- since unilateralism has its place -- rather than resort to this sort of feeble caviling.


Well, I accept that Mr. Marshall is an authority on the subject of "feeble caviling". But let me get this straight. Back when 1441 was passed in November, Ambassador Negroponte said that the US believed it had authority under existing "relevant UN resolutions". In its submission to Congress, the White House explicitly mentioned 678 as the basis for, e.g., the no-fly zones and Clinton's "Desert Fox" in 1998. But now reliance on 678 is "caviling?" Starting when?

Well, maybe this calls for another "Inigo Mopntoya" Award - big day for Mr. Marshall. Instead of "caviling", perhaps he is engaged in "Carvilleing", where a Democrat relentlessly spins long after no one can take him seriously. Never admit you are wrong, and wait for the conversation to move on. Fine.

MORE UPDATES: Tom Friedman on the perfidious French. Key quote:

"...But some voices within the French foreign policy elite and the business community — which depends heavily on the U.S. for trade and investment — are now saying that Messrs. Chirac and de Villepin did indeed go too far. The term you hear most often is "intoxicated." These two became so intoxicated by how popular their anti-U.S., antiwar stand became across Europe, and in the whole world, that they went from legitimately demanding U.N. endorsement for any use of force in Iraq to blocking any U.N.-approved use of force — effectively making France Saddam's lawyer and protector."

Hmm, that is a bit different from blaming the inept and confused Bush Administration.

And let's bring Belgravia into the "coalition of the willing" to debunk Marshall.


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